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Thread: A guitar bodied mandocello

  1. #1
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default A guitar bodied mandocello

    A recently strung up mandocello. 27"/68.5cm string length. 15"/38cm wide body, 4"/10cm deep at the tail, 3.5"/8.8cm deep at the neck join. Sitka spruce soundboard with hybridX/lattice bracing, American walnut body, mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. Standard CDGA tuning strung .017"p, .030", .040", .062" (in, of course, the opposite direction)

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  3. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: A guitar bodied mandocello

    Interesting, Graham. Tell us about your thought process on choosing that bracing pattern.
    Jim

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    Default Re: A guitar bodied mandocello

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham McDonald View Post
    strung .017"p, .030", .040", .062" (in, of course, the opposite direction)
    What's the benefit of putting the ball ends into the tuning machines?


    Just kidding.

  5. #4
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: A guitar bodied mandocello

    Jim, I have been using that sort of X/lattice bracing for over 30 years. There is something inherent in the lattice which gives a quick attack a clarity and separation to a note, but I have no idea of the physics of that. Back in the 1980s my friend and mentor, the late Jim Williams, made a lattice braced 12-string guitar after hearing some of the early lattice braced classical guitars by Greg Smallman. What was immediately noticeable about the 12-string was the clarity, with none of the mushy whoosh of many 12-strings. Jim's guitar used an Ovation style bridge with the ball-ends just bearing on the back of the bridge, but I wanted to use a pin bridge, so came up with the hybrid X/lattice which seems to work.

    Cheers

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    Default Re: A guitar bodied mandocello

    On a serious note, would you say there's a big difference between 685 and 660 scale length for a mandocello, and would 660 work reasonably well?
    Did you keep the nut & 14th fret width and bridge spacing the same as you would do for a zook?

    I am feeling inspired to give a cello a go once my zooks are strung up!

  8. #6
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: A guitar bodied mandocello

    String length is a trade-off between playability and tone. It would seem generally accepted that the 24.75" Gibson 'cello scale is really too short for the C string to work optimally, but it is playable as it is a standard guitar fret spacing. 26"/66cm will allow a smaller C string than the common .074" and 27"/68.5" a little less. I have made a few 26" five course instruments over the years, but it is getting the stringing right which is the tricky thing. I did a five course with a big teardrop body a couple of years back with a 25.5" scale and a .070" bottom string and that worked remarkably well. I am not sure if that answers your question 8-)

    String spacing is wider. Nut is 40mm and the outside stings are 50mm apart at the saddle.

    Cheers

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    Default Re: A guitar bodied mandocello

    Thank you - sounds like 650-685 is the range then. Need to measure the blanks are long enough before committing to 685 though.

    Is there a practical benefit in using individual guitar tuning machines vs a mandolin 4-plate on a 4-course instrument?

  10. #8
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: A guitar bodied mandocello

    Four on a plate mandolin tuners are lighter than 8 guitar tuners, but you have the drill the holes very accurately to stop one or more of them being stiff. The StewMac drilling guide can be very useful. For whatever reason individual tuners became standard for bouzoukis in the UK in the 1970s and 80s, maybe cause good quality mandolin tuners were hard to find. It makes no difference in how well they work.

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